Story By: DINO OBERTO / MAHONING VALLEY SPEEDWAY – LEHIGHTON, PA – In a unique and very rewarding collaboration between eastern Pennsylvania’s two asphalt race tracks – the 1/4-mile Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton and 1/3-mile Evergreen Raceway in Butler Township – Modified teams are set to share in a lucrative payoff with the inaugural running of the Tom Wanick Jr., Memorial that will be staged at both speedways and stand as the highest paying events ever at each establishments.
On Sunday, May 22 at Mahoning Valley the “Modified Spring Zing Tom Wanick Jr., Memorial 150” will pay $7000-to-win while at Evergreen Raceway’s annual King of the Green, which is tagged as the “Tom Wanick Jr. Memorial 200” and slated for Sunday, October 9, is rewarding first place with $8000. Both are record payouts for each track and Evergreen’s race is also the longest distance in track history.
“This is great way to show how both tracks can indeed work together,” said Mahoning’s Director of Track Operations Todd Baer.
“Tommy (Wanick) came to us with such high enthusiasm to make this happen and we’re excited to be able to honor his dad and show all the asphalt faithful of both Evergreen and Mahoning that through cooperation we will put on a great set of events with great payouts in his name.”
The races are being held in memory of the late Tom Wanick Jr., who passed away on January 4. Tom was a reputable Modified car owner and supporter of both tracks as well as partaking on the NASCAR Whelen Modified and Race of Champions Tours. He always paid close attention to detail as his signature No. 1W cars arrived at the track as show pieces with lots of chrome and defining paint schemes.
Tom Jr.’s main focus was Evergreen Raceway where he began in 1988 with Succasunna, NJ’s Chris Ammon behind the wheel. Ammon gave the team their first win on July 18, 1992 and 10 more times after that.
Tom Jr., also played a pivotal role in resurrecting the track in late 1999 with then promoter Joe Callavini. He was instrumental in reworking the back stretch of the track which clearly made for better racing. Eventually he turned over the reins of the team to his son, Tom III, who continued to make sure the 1W is always at the forefront with such star-studded drivers as Anthony Sesely, Chuck Hossfeld and Bobby Jones.
A paving foreman for Franzosa Trucking of Hazle Township, Tom Jr., laid down the new asphalt when Evergreen was repaved last year.
“My dad was everything to me and our race team and this is my way of celebrating his life by holding races in his name at Mahoning and Evergreen. We have always supported both tracks and we’re thrilled to be able to hold high-paying events that I’m sure will attract Modified racers from near and far, said Tom III.
“I appreciate what Jack Carlino (Mahoning promoter) and Jason Makarewicz (Evergreen promoter) do for asphalt racing and so did my dad. This will be a great set of races for each track with the payouts in place and I know the fans will be in for a treat when you see the teams we expect to be taking part,” he continued.
“We’re going to bring three cars alone with Chis (Ammon), Chuck (Hossfeld) and myself all driving plus where going to be giving support to Anthony (Sesely) and Bobby (Jones).”
For Ammon it marks the first time back with Wanick since the 2002 Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium Speedway.
The race formats are designed to keep in tune at both tracks for the Tom Wanick Jr. Memorials. 24 cars will start and all who qualify via heats will take part in a redraw. Two cars will make the grids from the consi and there will also be two provisionals per each track.
In place will be a six tire rule. Also 100 ‘show-up’ points will go towards the season championship at each track. At Evergreen there will be a mid-race break at lap 100.
Mahoning’s 150 is $7000-to-win, $4000 for second, $1500 for 10th and $1200 to take the green. The 200 at Evergreen pays $8000-to-win and $1200 to take the green.
Car registration is $100 if postmarked by May 9 for Mahoning and September 1 at Evergreen. Afterwards it will be $150. Registration forms can be found on both tracks websites.
As a bonus the overall best average finisher between the two races will be awarded a guaranteed starting spot in the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series Haunted 100 on Saturday, October 22 at Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, MA.
In the event of inclement weather on the respective race days, dates and times will be reset accordingly in an effort to be non-conflicting with other race events.
Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Futures will be on the bill at Mahoning while the Factory Stocks are on the card at Evergreen.